Ask a Mexican

Why don't you tell all your readers to learn English?

Dear Mexican: Although I'm familiar with your column, I don't read it regularly. But today I was struck by something you said recently. And I quote: "We called ourselves Spanish, we considered ourselves white." I'm Mexican, and I consider myself "white" because I'm not black or red or Asian. I understand what I'm made of. People from Spain are Caucasian. But in the U.S., educators downplay Spain's impact on this country. Test questions in school always emphasized that the Spanish came here for "glory and gold," not to settle this land. So I took fifteen trips to Spain over a period of twenty years to explore Spain. I've written and researched for years to learn who the Spanish really are. And I am here to tell you that I am proud to have a drop of Spanish blood! Do you know where to find the towns of Laredo, Reynosa and Durango? Not only in Mexico, but in the Basque region of Spain! The conquistadores named New Spain areas after towns in Spain! So even if we are one-quarter Spanish, we are members of the white race.

The Anglo-Americans have succeeded in shaming Mexicans about their heritage and their ancestry. But I am very proud of being Mexican. The blood in my veins is Indian and Spanish; we are Caucasian as well. If we can't call ourselves white, why can others? Why is it that my friends from Iran, Egypt and Albania check off "white" when faced with a U.S. application or legal form? How do these groups end up being "white" and Mexicans don't? Why is it that even a mulatto calls himself "white" now? Please don't be so eager to dismiss us as non-white!

Brown and Proud

Dear Brownie: You don't regularly read my column? ¡No manches! I have no problem with Mexicans being proud of their Spanish ancestry as long as they don't ignore their nopal en la frente, just like I don't mind Mexicans being proud of their indigenous blood as long as they don't try to pass themselves off as the pure-blooded heirs of Cuauhtémoc. But news flash, chula: Mexicans no son white. Nor are Spaniards. "White" is a construct, not a race. And the only legitimate Caucasians come from the Caucasus, ancestral home of the Boston Marathon bombers (quick aside for Mexicans: Don't the Tsarnaev brothers look like at least one of your cousins, just like Saddam Hussein looked like everyone's tío?). Finally, do better research: Laredo and Reinosa are in Cantabria, which is about as Basque as you are white.

Dear Mexican: As a student of history, I believe that Mexicans should be more attuned to speaking English. The Spanish did nothing but enslave and subjugate everybody on this continent. Speaking their language only gives them credit they don't deserve. For all the faults of the USA, at least speaking and writing English can open some doors for you here and give you a chance in life. Every immigrant group that ever came over on a boat or crossed the border has had it tough in this country. The ones who couldn't speak fluent English naturally had it tougher. So as a certified advice columnist, you should be advising everyone to at least sign up for the program here. If they don't like what's happening, they can always swear at their boss in Spanish and he or she will never know the difference. But ask for a big fat raise in English.

Do the Right Thing

Dear Gabacho: I'm not certified by any organization I'm aware of besides the National Organization for DESMADRE, but I won't pass along your advice to my readers. Repeating your consejo to them is like me telling Mexicans they should use salsa to spice up their food: They'd laugh me back to Cantabria.